Australia may ground R44s without bladder tank upgrade

Australia may ground R44s without bladder tank upgrade

5-Apr-2013 Source: ATSB

Robinson R44 helicopters that have not been fitted with upgraded fuel tanks face being grounded from 30 April 2013.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has issued a direction to all affected R44 helicopter operators about the installation of flexible fuel tanks to reduce the risk of post-accident fires.

CASA has made it clear that R44 helicopter operators following the Robinson maintenance program are required to install the new fuel tanks.

Any operators not covered by the Robinson maintenance program will be directed by CASA to fit the tanks if the upgrade has not already been completed.

In a service bulletin issued in September 2012 Robinson set 30 April 2013 as the deadline for the fitting of the flexible fuel tanks.

All R44 helicopter operators have been given ample notice of this requirement, with the first fuel tank service bulletin issued by Robinson in December 2010.

CASA issued an airworthiness bulletin in June 2012 strongly recommending the fuel tanks be fitted at the earliest opportunity.

CASA then wrote to R44 operators in February 2013 to emphasise the deadline set by Robinson.

On 28 March 2013 CASA again wrote to all R44 operators to highlight the importance of replacing the fuel tanks and to direct them to give information to CASA about the status of their maintenance program.

In addition, CASA this week issued another airworthiness bulletin to formally remind R44 operators and maintainers of the need to have new fuel tanks fitted.

The latest actions by CASA follow a preliminary investigation report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau into a fatal R44 helicopter accident at Bulli Tops in NSW on 21 March 2013.

Safety is CASA’s overriding priority.

Editor note – we have added the links in this story to facilitate finding the relevant information

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